25 Days of Christmas: Day 8-10

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We’re doing the 25 days of Christmas this year – a special Christmas activity every day. It’s an idea I got from Miss Fish over at a Peek Inside the Fishbowl, and it’s both a great new-to-us Christmas tradition, and a great way of organizing our family traditions.

Day 8 – Cookie Decorating

How do you decorate cookies with a toddler, without anything getting eaten? It’s not “icing” and “sprinkles”, it’s “glue” and “sparkles”.

I figure this will only ever work once, so decided to enjoy it while it lasts. And now we have a tray of Christmas critters, decked out in snowmen and snowflakes (and neon dinosaurs), all ready to deliver to neighbours and teachers.

Day 9 – Christmas Music Dance Party

Dance parties around here are generally pretty “free form”, but DH and I decided to dust off our dancing shoes and try a little family foxtrot – or as close as you can get when you each have a kidlet on one hip. Miss Bea has always loved this – spins come with lots of squealing – and while Baby Em was a little timid at first, we soon had big grins.

Oh, and I guess Daddy liked the cookie decorating, because he pulled out some arrowroots and the leftover icing.

Day 10 –  Hot Chocolate with Eggnog

Sweet. Simple. Yum.

What are you doing for the 25 Days of Christmas? Feel free to include a link to your blog!

25 Days of Christmas – Week 1

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For those who don’t know, Miss Fish over in the Fishbowl has a great Christmas tradition that I (and many others) have decided to adopt. It’s the 25 days of Christmas, an advent calendar of sorts, but instead of a chocolate each day (or just a pretty picture, as it was when I was a kid), there’s a family activity.

Three things I love about this:

  1. You can adapt it to your family. For example, our “25 Days” started on December 6 – St. Nicholas Day. I may actually extend it to the traditional end of our Christmas season – when the tree comes down on January 6.
  2. You can use it to organize your month and decide what is important to you. For example, I have decided I want to make & decorate cookies for a long list of people. If I want to include my 2 year old, this is not a quick process. So we will actually have 4 of our days devoted to this: 1 to make (and refridgerate) the dough, one to cut and bake (and cool), one to decorate (and let the icing set), and one to wrap. Voila! 4 family holiday activities that knock something off the to-do list at the same time! I love it!
  3. That so many people are doing it, and sharing such great ideas! Our late start has given me lots of chances to pilfer the ideas of others, like the Grinchy Who-Feast I’m stealing from Krista.

For this year, instead of activity cards I’m using a colour-coded google calendar. My eldest just turned two, I don’t think she’ll really know the difference. Green = flexible, can move it around and do it pretty much any ol’ day. Yellow = slightly less flexible. The four days of cookie-making qualify, since they are interdependent and need to be done in time to give to teachers. Red = not flexible, like putting shoes out for St. Nicholas.

Yeah, I know. We could use a body-part reference here, but my boss has a nicer way of putting it: “Sasha is very details-oriented”.

Day 0: ‘Twas the night before St. Nicholas Day

St. Nicholas Day was the start to the Christmas season when I was a kid – we’d set out our shoes the night before, and wake to find them filled with treats. So on Sunday evening we lined up our shoes:

And did I mention something about this not being flexible? Well, nothing is sacred in this house. We kindly asked St. Nicholas to come a bit early (sneaking in while Miss Bea was in the bath) rather than add to the Monday morning antics.

Miss Bea was delighted with her “Mooshe” and “Buddafwy” hand puppets – which made St. Nicholas very happy too.

Day 1: Music & Decorating

This day didn’t pan out quite as planned. We have a tradition when we go sailing in the sunny south: the first tunes on the way out of harbour have to be Bob Marley’s Legend. Those opening chords herald the start of the ‘real’ vacation. And so with Christmas: the musical season begins with the silvery strains of Boney M’s Silent Night. Sadly, the evening was spent hunting up the CD – apparently the only one of a collection of hundreds that has not yet been imported to iTunes. Ah, such is life. We did find it. And Dearest is henceforth disallowed from mocking my detailed labelling of packing boxes.

Day 2: Paper chains

Remember those? Strips of paper, looped into rings that form a chain. We had a great little production line going – I cut strips with the paper cutter, hand them over to to be “decorated” with the Crayolas, then take them back and loop them together. Ideal craft for a minimalist like Miss Bea, who likes to grab a sheet, make a mark, and then grab another. And so, we had our first decoration:

Day 3: Kids’ Christmas Party

Dearest’s work has the best kids’ Christmas party. It’s two buffets: one food, one craft supplies. The kids then make the decorations for the office Christmas tree. I don’t know if I can call this a family activity though – Miss Bea was immediately adopted by one of Dearest’s coworkers, and spent the evening in his lap. Super cute.

Days 4 – 7: The Cookie Odyssey (plus Mooshe)

I admit it – we’ve made the cookie dough, but it’s still sitting in the fridge. It’s been busy. But we also managed to make our take on Krista’s Handprint/Footprint Moose (another thing I like about this: discovering great new-to-me blogs!). Ours was cut from construction paper – even though it turns out our stack has no brown paper. But nothing says Christmas like a purple and yellow moose:

Are you doing the 25 Days of Christmas? Please share in the comments, and feel free to add a link to your blog!

The Guy in Red Goes Green

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I’m sorry, I know I haven’t written in a long time. But with our own little elves in the picture now, I imagine you’ll be hearing more from us in the next few years. Miss Bea isn’t quite up for writing letters yet, but she will be soon enough. I expect that this year, at the ripe old age of two, she’ll start to have an inkling of who you are and where you fit into the hustle and bustle that always comes this time of year.

But before that happens, I was hoping we could have a little chat. I remember how we could always tell, growing up, which presents under the tree were yours by the distinctive Santa paper. I don’t know how you managed to find it every year, I’m guessing you had a whole bunch of it stashed away early-on.

You know, Santa, better than most I imagine, what has been happening on our planet lately. I hear it’s getting a good bit warmer (and wetter) in your neck of the woods. And, while I imagine you have a few things on your mind as you fly around on Christmas Eve, it must be pretty hard to miss the shrinking woodlands in some parts, and the growing landfills in others.

Lots of people are trying to do their bit to help with these problems, and while I was pondering the question of Santa paper (you know, wondering what pattern you’re going to pick for our family), I had an idea: cloth gift-bags.

I have it all figured out, and since I’ve been doing this for a few years now, I can even help you out a bit. I’m going to see if I can find some really great Santa-y fabric, and buy a great big bunch of it so that when new bags are needed from time to time, you’ve got more handy. I can even start you off with a few bags, although I’ll try to make them look different from the ones we use already. Eventually, Miss Bea & Baby Em will figure out that we’re in cahoots, but for now I’d rather keep this our little secret.

So the deal is, you can use these bags for your presents, and when we’re done, we’ll leave them next to the fireplace (maybe hanging from one of the stocking hooks). Then you can pick them up on your way home, all ready for next year. I figure your post-Christmas vacation in the Bahamas probably winds up around the 6th? That’s also when we take down the tree so that works perfectly.

So what do you think, big guy? You in?

Best regards to Mrs. C. and all your little helpers,

P.S. If you’re stuck for ideas for me this year, I hear Le Nordik does gift certificates.

P.P.S. To anyone else who might be reading this – what are some of the special things that Santa does for your family? Do you leave out cookies? Does Santa have another way in if you don’t have a chimney? What are you doing to ‘go green’ this Christmas?